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Domestic Violence Has A Long History


Many believe that our society is becoming more violent as it ages.  But the fact of the matter is that violence has been around since the dawn of time.  Violence within families, too, has been well-documented in ancient societies, as well as modern ones, targeting all sorts of people, but primarily directed toward women and children.

Ignoring—or Even Supporting Domestic Violence 

Aggression has long been an accepted way to control unwieldy women and children across the centuries. Modern domestic violence relates to any intimate violence involving physical, emotional, sexual, or other abuse that intimidates or frightens another person. But past societies created rules that allowed for—and encouraged this kind of violence.

Hammurabi’s Code spelled out harsh punishments for misbehavior, and, since women and children were considered to be a man’s property, those punishments were never questioned, and those who suffered violence had no community resources to reach out to for help. Women could be tied up and drowned for the sin of adultery, and sons could have their hands amputated for striking their fathers. The dominance of the patriarch was law.

Ancient Romans also believed fathers to be supreme, with absolute power over their families. Not only could they abuse or even kill them without penalty; they could also sell them into slavery. Only fathers had a say in whether newborns would be kept or abandoned to die.

Constantine’s reign in the 15th century relied on doctrine from the Roman Catholic Church for guidance on family matters, and wives were to be judged and abused by husbands to discipline them and benefit their souls. Subjugation of women continued to be the norm for centuries.

The Puritans continued this view of women and children to some extent, never acknowledging any legal rights for anyone but land-owning males. Physical punishment was allowed as long as it didn’t bother neighbors. Men learned to control their domains more quietly, and it was viewed as a family matter to be kept under wraps.

By 1848 the Seneca Falls Convention assembled to fight for women’s rights, which led to the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that white men shouldn’t necessarily own everyone else in society. But it wasn’t until 1871 that the Court ruled that men chastising their wives was barbaric. Decades of legal improvements gave women more protections, but not until the 1970’s were the first shelters built for victims of domestic violence.

Modern times have seen the passage and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, supplemental funding for services and resources, and greater public acknowledgement of the domestic violence crisis in America. The prosecution of violence against women and families, restitution for survivors of violence, and the option for civil litigation against abusers have gained momentum in recent years.

Improvement is Not Elimination of Problems

Has American society evolved in its views of domestic violence? Certainly.  Nonetheless, countless survivors suffer aggression from those who claim to love them every single day.  At the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos, our experienced, compassionate Miami domestic violence attorneys are here to help.  Schedule a confidential consultation in our Miami office today.

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